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The kings are described as being of the earth but the rulers are not necessarily of the earth. It does not read the kings and rulers of the earth, only the kings are of the earth. And the kings merely stand ground while the rulers are the ones devising a plan.

“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭2:2‬ ‭

Who therefore are those who were given rulership or had rulership at the time of psalm 2?

2 Answers 2

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I think in this case "ruler" is a synonym of "king". The verse has a semantic rhyme, as many verses in Psalms have. The rhyme deepens and enriches the meaning of the verse.

The kings of the earth set themselves
and the rulers take counsel together

See how the second line echoes the first one.

Therefore, in the context of earthly kings, I don't see spiritual, angelic meaning in "ruler". This may be plainly a king, a prince, or a governor (Ezra 5:3), an army commander (2 Kings 9:5), or a city mayor, a palace administrator (2 Kings 10:5).

Of course, in the context of prophecy, the evil spirits do take counsel against the Lord and his Anointed.

In Psalm 2:2, the meaning of both lines is one. This is a verse without opposition. It doesn't state that: the kings are of the earth, but the rulers are not of the earth.

The word "together" in the second line is absent in the first one, but this doesn't state that the kings don't gather, it just fulfills the meaning of the first line, same as the word "of the earth" complements the meaning of the second line.

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  • John 16:11 names on such ruler, same Greek work as the LXX. Also I’m not contesting that the rulers are not on the earth, but not OF the earth Aug 17, 2022 at 3:15
  • Well, I edited on to of
    – HoRn
    Aug 17, 2022 at 6:13
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I offer the following reasons why the word רָזַן (razan = "rulers") in Ps 2:2 should be understood as ordinary earthly rulers:

  1. The context of V1 is discussing earthly rulers.
  2. The Hebrew parallelism of V2 places the earthly kings as parallel with "rulers"
  3. Leaving aside Ps 2:2 all instances of רָזַן (razan) are clearly of earthly kings/rulers etc, as shown in the appendix below. There is no reason to expect Ps 2:2 to be an exception.
  4. The poetic structure of the whole Psalm suggests that this part is discussing earthly rulers:
  • Stanza 1: V1-3; 8 lines; earthly rulers plotting against the LORD and Messiah
  • Stanza 2: V4-6; 6 lines; discussion in heaven about installing Messiah as king
  • Stanza 3: V7-9; 8 lines; taunts and threats from the LORD about the Son
  • Stanza 4: V10-12; 8 lines; earthly kings/judges encouraged to serve the LORD
  1. The Psalm is seen by most to be a prophetic Messianic Psalm which has an obvious fulfilment in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. For example, Gill suggest this:

and the rulers take counsel together; as did the Jewish sanhedrim, the great court of judicature among the Jews, the members of which were the rulers of the people, who frequently met together and consulted to take away the life of Christ: though it may also include all other governors and magistrates who have entered into schemes

The Pulpit commentary is more specific:

And the rulers take counsel together. "Rulers" are persons having authority, but below the rank of kings Such were the ethnarchs and tetrarchs of the first century, the governors of provinces under the Roman emperor, the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and the like. These last frequently "took counsel against the Lord" (see Matthew 26:3-5; Matthew 27:1; Acts 4:5, 6; Acts 5:21-41). 6. The sense of the word יָ֑חַד (yahad = "together") suggests, among other things, that earthly kings conspired together with rulers against the Messiah. If the "rulers" are not earthly rulers, then we have the earthly kings consulting "heavenly" rulers (or some other unstated set of rulers) against the Messiah. While we know that such exist (eg, Eph 3:10, 6:12) we have no record of such cooperating and conspiring with human rulers apart from tempting them.

In brief - there is no compelling reason to suspect any other meaning for "rulers" that ordinary earthly rulers which is the plain and obvious meaning.

APPENDIX - Occurrence of רָזַן (razan) in the OT

The word רָזַן occurs just six times in the OT as follows:

  • Judges 5:3 - “Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will praise the LORD, the God of Israel, in song. [Part of the song of Deborah]
  • Ps 2:2 - The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together, against the LORD and against His Anointed One:
  • Prov 8:15 - By me [wisdom] kings reign, and rulers decree what is just
  • Prov 31:4 - It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to crave strong drink,
  • Isa 40:23 - He brings the princes to nothing and makes the rulers of the earth meaningless.
  • Hab 1:10 - They scoff at kings and make rulers an object of scorn. They laugh at every fortress and build up siege ramps to seize it.

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